This December our holidays started out different - we went to visit our friend in his beautiful hill-top house in Solan (near Simla). This was a lovely place, with hills all-around, far away from maddening noise/bustle, beautifully architected home and great hosts. Somehow DS was a bit off - not very sure if it was due to the height, the very narrow path leading to the hill-top, or due the fact that it was very cold in there. He was a bit anxious and we could see that he was not totally into it.
After a week there, we decided to deviate from our typical december holidays - which would be a week in Bangalore and then rest of time (multiple weeks) in Chennai - this was driven due to the flood situation in Chennai. So, we decided to stay 2+ additional weeks in Bangalore and then stay just 4d in Chennai and exit Chennai to the US.
It is in Bangalore he totally blossomed - not sure if it was the familiarity of the place, or he had time to think through things. He was completely present 100% of times - there were no visibble "coping mechanisms". It is as if, he was a completely different person altogether. He was patient, perseverant and at the same time very communicative of his doubt, if he had one and was unable to understand. His favorite grand parents were also with him. Here are some examples:
- When we met the ex-Indian fast bowler Srinath, they got talking - Srinath asked DS, that if Dravid is still DS' #1 favorite and what would it take for Srinath to get the #1 spot in DS's all-time favorite list. Pat came the reply - "Mr. Srinath, you come home for Dinner or Lunch - you will be #1 in my books" :-)
- He was very concerned about his grand-dad - who had difficult in wearing his shoes - DS would immediately, bend down, strap the shoes for him and help him out.
- Every morning, DS would wake up, and on his own, go out for his exercise walk around the apartment (5-6 laps, and finish his 100x jumping rope) - no reminders required.
- Since the home is locked through the year, the rooms were dusty, so we used to sleep in the living room at the night - he'd bring the mattresses (carry them on his won - "I will ask for your help if I need them"), bedsheets, pillows and blankets; the next day morning, he'd do the reverse, fold all of them and take them away for storage. He even invented a new way of laying down the pillows - he'd carry them on his back, and would do a somersault, leave the pillows down on the somersault and get up for this next load.
- He was quite engaged and present when we visited our friends; and even if they were to talk topics that used to freak him out (about cars that he doesn't like). In a family re-union, he enthusiastically participated in playing Tennis and Badminton. We could clearly see, that in Tennis, he remembered and tried to follow his coach's past instruction (hitting over the ball, follow-through). Leaving their home, he made sure that he had collected all the Gym shirts (including DDs), folded them into a bag for carrying them; and made sure we brought it home.
- He had told his grand-dad that he'd take math lessons from him; and at the outset asked for patience from his grand-dad in teaching him. For a few days, he took out his own laptop to study whatever his tutor had taught him back in the US.
- DM, DS' aunt had gone dress-shopping along with DS. At the shop, while they were seated and looking around options, an old man walked on - DS immediately stood up and offered his seat to the old man. The old man, who turned out to be the owner of the shop, was so impressed with DS. Later DS told us that working in the Senior Center had taught him to do this.
All of these, in spite, of having exceptions regarding his diet - both on sugar, wheat and dairy, much more frequently. This has made us think on two dimensions:
- Do we really need this strict a diet ? We are planning to re-introduce dairy in his diet and see what it does. But still keep it gluten free and sugar free
- Maybe coming to India and staying at our home in Bangalore is a good thing - we need to explore options around in India.
We are so proud of DS of how well he has re-wired himself on this visit and how he has been "present" all the time. I wish we can find that magic potion that has transformed DS during this visit.